Making new holiday traditions in the kitchen

Joseph Tito and his kids cooking in the kitchen

When do the holidays start for you? I was always in the firm “week before” camp. But the greatest gifts of my life arrived November 30, 2018—Stella & Mia. Now, I mark the start of my holiday with their birthday.

All about family

My girls were born through surrogacy in Kenya. That first year, being stuck with my mom in Kenya, was bittersweet. We were overjoyed and filled with love for the girls, but we were far from home. So last year, with everyone together for the first traditional Tito Christmas with the girls, I decided I would combine old traditions with a few new traditions that my girls can take with them into their adult years. I put my creative hat on and began in the kitchen.

The smell of memories

My mom has Christmas Eve covered with a spectacular fish dinner. Even during the year when I eat fish, my mind goes to the warmth, love, and joy of Christmas Eve with my family. I started thinking I wanted to create a few experiential traditions with the girls. Cookies were an easy place to start. You can find a favorite cookie recipe that works for you, but here’s why I picked a simple sugar cookie recipe.

Joseph Tito and his mom cooking in the kitchen

  • You can add a few drops of food coloring into sectioned dough and get cookies of all colours (or just green and red like I do)
  • The girls will be able to decorate them individually, by adding their choice of sprinkles or jujubes
  • The cookie cutter is a breeze to use with sugar cookies
  • Icing them will bring a whole new level to our tradition and memories as the girls get older
  • (And…umm….my favorite hazelnut spread goes really, really well with them)

The girls didn’t do much more than watch me last year (and bang on some pots as I talked to them). This year, they’ll be able “help” and do things like pour the measured sugar into a bowl, maybe stir some dry ingredients, and of course watch them bake and begin to create an olfactory-stimulated memory that will hopefully bring them joy for many future Christmases to come.

Safety matters

With more people looking to spend this holiday season at home, it’s important that we stay safe and take the extra steps to ensure safety in the home.

To do my part, I will use this family baking experience as an opportunity to teach Stella & Mia about kitchen safety. As they get older, I hope they’ll want to do more in the kitchen, although I think they’ll want to dance, do gymnastics, play baseball or soccer, or play hockey. So, I am going to take advantage of these times together to instill good, safe kitchen habits.

Safety starters for kids

Here are the 3 safety rules that I will reinforce with my girls:

  • Check that the oven and other cooking appliances are turned off before you leave the kitchen.
  • Watch out for sharp knives. Let an adult cut or slice foods.
  • Keep paper towels, dishtowels and potholders away from the stove so they don’t catch on fire.

As they get older, I’ll teach the kids things like:

  • Keep electrical appliances away from water to avoid shocks. Stay away from electrical sockets, especially if your hands are wet.
  • Never put water on an oil fire — it could make the fire bigger. Ask an adult for help!
  • Put out a fire with a fire extinguisher. If the fire is small, it can be put out with baking soda or smothered with a lid. Leave the house and call 911 if the fire has leaping flames.
  • Always turn pot handles in toward the back of the stove. This way no one can bump into them and knock the pot over.

Safety never gets old

There are some more safety tips here you might like to explore with your kids, especially if they’re a few years older than Stella & Mia. You know what? As an adult, these are very good reminders, too!

Additional Allstate Safety Tips:

Allstate Canada's 12 Days of Safety in the Home

What are your favourite holiday baking traditions? Please share in the comments below.

Disclaimer: This information and the opinions expressed in this blog are written by Joseph Tito, conducted on behalf of Allstate Canada. They have been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing specific legal or insurance advice.